‘Cross written’ letter


.. a ‘cross-written’ letter in a magazine story about Love & Loss, an exhibition at Tāmaki Paenga Hira, Auckland Museum.

It was written to Jane Williams, 17 March 1845. Jane was the wife of William Williams, an Anglican missionary, when missionaries were the vanguard of the system of colonisation. They landed in Paihia, 25 March 1826, and are buried at Napier Old Cemetery.

A ‘cross-written letter’, the magazine notes, reflected the scarcity and cost of paper at the time, and is written first in a regular way, then turned 90 degrees and written across the other way. Genius!

William’s elder brother, Rev. Henry Williams, landed in Paihia as leader of the Anglican Church Missionary Society ahead of William, 3 August 1823, and is buried with his wife Marianne at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Pakaraka. In 1840, Henry, with his son Edward, translated the English draft of Tiriti o Waitangi, Treaty of Waitangi into te reo Māori.

For those amongst early Autumn in Valencia, Spain, the book will be at the Recreo Art Book Fair next weekend.

I photographed the footstones of both Williams brothers for ‘A Vocabulary’ (@vapourmomentabooks, 2021), looking at the texts and parts of the texts on memorials and gravestones (and footstones!) of Aotearoa New Zealand’s colonial wars, a vocabulary of colonisation. Rangihīroa Panoho has written a lament and essay for the book, which is excerpted for the exhibition.

The exhibition, after a run earlier this year at Te Uru Waitakere Contemorary Gallery, will open 23 October at Toi Tauranga, Tauranga Art Gallery through 23 January 2022.